Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Just for fun, Hitler’s ten dumbest mistakes

with 64 comments

hitler_and_blondi

As I said, just for fun. And to provide debate ammo if one of my gentle readers is presented with the “If the USA hadn’t stopped Hitler, we’d all be speaking German now” tirades. Sigh.  Even without the USA, Hitler’s empire would have come crashing down sooner or later. A combination of strategic over-extension, resistence movements, and Hitler’s folly would have destroyed the Third Reich one way or the other. Not to even mention that it was Russian armies rolling inexorably westward that destroyed Hitler’s armies. In any event though, it is astonishing some of the blunders Hitler made. No wonder the Allied High command sometimes joked that Hitler was their greatest ally:

1. Battle of Britain. When Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to “take out” the Brits, the Luftwaffe sensibly enough began their campaign by trying to destroy the RAF. By the RAF’s admission, they nearly succeeded, in fact they were about two weeks away from pretty much shutting down the RAF and controlling the skies of Britain. Then Hitler got involved and ordered the Luftwaffe to attack the British cities instead, especially London. Which did nothing but piss the British off and freed to RAF to concentrate on regaining control of the skies over Britain. London burned, but German casualties mounted to the point where they had to call off the campaign, and that was that.
2. Cancellation of weapons programs. After the Fall of France in 1940 Hitler was so confident of victory that he cancelled most weapons research programs, insisting that the war could be won with the weapons they had. Two years later when the Germans were being outclassed on all fronts by next-gen Allied weapons, the programs were all frantically restarted. Two years had been lost though, and worse, key engineers and such had died in Russia. Germany did manage to produce some impressive weapons, but never in any quantity and most of them never had the bugs worked out and  thus weren’t terribly reliable in practise.
3. Invasion of Russia. There were multiple mistakes made here, just attacking Russia for one was incredibly optimistic. Compounded by a six week delay in the attack so Hitler could pointlessly bail out Mussolini in the Balkans. And then the Germans made no preparations for  a long war because Hitler assumed Russia could be completely defeated the first summer. He ordered Leningrad to be surrounded, not captured! And Hitler fatally delayed the push for Moscow by diverting his panzers to the stalled southern front. Unlike in Napoleon’s time, Moscow was the absolute centre of the Russian railroad network, and if the Germans had captured the city and the rail connections south of the city, it would have crippled the Russian war effort.
4. The “No retreat” order. This is Hitler’s biggest mistake in Russia and one of the biggest military blunders of all time. When the war in Russia started going badly during the first winter, Hitler ordered his troops to never retreat under any circumstances. This is insane in general because there’s no point standing your ground if you are outnumbered and getting the crap beat out of you. Doubly insane because the only real advantage the Germans had over the Russians was that the German troops were far more mobile. So it made far more sense to retreat when attacked and then counterattack after he Russians had advanced beyond their supply lines. The one German general with the stones to defy Hitler, Manstein, did this a number of times with devastating effect.
5. Me-262 as a bomber. The Me-262 was a beautiful plane, in some ways a decade or more before its time. It was the world’s first jet interceptor and could fly rings (literally) around the best Allied planes of the time. The Me-262 was conceived, designed, and developed as a jet interceptor, a plane specifically designed to hunt down and destroy Allied planes. Hitler ordered it into full production … as a bomber. His minions nodded, and quietly continued to develop it as an interceptor. Someone tipped Hitler off though, and he made sure it was developed as a bomber. In trial runs few pilots were even able to get their bombs within a mile of the targets. The Me-262 was a complete (and predictable) failure as a bomber. By the time a few Me-262 interceptors saw action they were too few too late to change anything.
6. No women labourers. Did the Nazis use slave labour in their factories because they were mean people? Well, yes, but they were also motivated by a severe shortage of factory labour … because Hitler had decreed that German women were not to do factory work. Millions of American and British women went to work on assembly lines freeing up millions of men for military duty. The Germans suffered terrible manpower shortages during the war, while millions of German women sat at home.
7. War on USA. Hitler declared war on the USA right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Why? He thought it would be good for morale. (Most of his dumbf*ck ideas were based on thinking like that.) Maybe the USA would have declared war on him anyhow, but it was crazy to simply give Roosevelt what he wanted.
8. More Russian errors. In i942 Hitler ordered his armies to seize the oil fields in the Caucasus and the city of Stalingrad, spreading his armies far too thin. As a result his forces failed to capture the oil fields, and suffered crippling losses at Stalingrad.
9. The Battle of Kursk. At Kursk in 1943 Hitler ordered a massive attack even though the Russians clearly knew he would attack Kursk. The German armies last great offencive flung themselves against massed Russian defenders dug in with huge numbers of anti-tank weapons and legions of modern Russian tanks. It was the biggest tank battle in history, and a crushing defeat for Germany. The battle of Stalingrad guaranteed that Germany was not going to win its war with Russia, Kursk guaranteed that the Russians would win.
10. Battle of the Bulge. Hitler’s last gasp attempt to win the war. He attempted to repeat his success of 1940 by attacking the Allies the exact same way. Even though his forces were vastly smaller, didn’t have the fuel to do the job, and were facing a vastly superior enemy than the French army of 1940. The attack had zero chance of success, it would have been far more sensible to attack the Russians and try to slow down their advance.

And these are just the big blunders, there were plenty of minor blunders as well. My favourite is one last Luftwaffe story, because it shows just how shallow and demented Hitler’s thought processes were. At one point in the middle of the war the British bomber force was causing big problems for Germany, about a thousand British bombers would fly over Germany and carpet bomb some target almost every night. The Brits bombed at  night because they couldn’t replace their losses, so they sacrificed accuracy for safety. The Luftwaffe had a great idea, lone German long range fighters would lurk around British airbases and attack British bombers as they came in to land in the morning light. (The radars of the time couldn’t really track single planes flying at low altitude.) It was very effective and downed a number of irreplaceable British bombers and their crews. If it had continued at the very least the Allies would have been forced to divert significant air power to defend against a small number of Germans, and it might have even severely crippled the British bombing campaign.

So what did Hitler do when he heard about this clever program to defend against the British bomber fleet? Iron crosses all around? Nope, Hitler basically said “Nein, nein nein, the Luftwaffe must shoot down the British bombers over Germany, not England, so that the German people can see the wreckage of the British bombers and be encouraged!” Hitler cancelled the program, and the British high command (not to mention the British bomber crews) breathed a big sigh of relief when German planes stopped appearing out of nowhere to shoot them down as they landed.

Frankly it’s a wonder Hitler’s Third Reich lasted as long as it did.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit. Apparently the current German government is claiming copyright to works produced by the Nazis, so if they want the credit for this pic, so be it. Go figure. It’s Hitler and his beloved dog, Blondi. I think it’s a compelling image for a number of reasons, to me it captures Hitler’s charm, evil, and shallowness. Plus it captures a real moment in time, the magic of photography never ceases to amaze me. )

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Written by unitedcats

April 13, 2009 at 6:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

64 Responses

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  1. interesting post, I knew about Hitlers failed strategy in Russia due largely to his ego and underestimating the task at hand, but the other incidents are new to me.

    who knows, if Hitler had kept his ego and prejudice against women in check, trusted his experts to do their jobs and just took his place as a galvanizing figurehead we might all be speaking German, US included. Then again if he wasn’t such an egomaniac and prejudiced WWII probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place, or at least not with Hitler at the forefront.

    Josh V.

    April 15, 2009 at 11:54 am

    • His dog and his whore were more imortant than the sacrifices of his militayrmen, gernerals were shot and many good officers, put out of jobs, hitler was a drug addict with a drug addict mind…invading russia,hell he could have bought the oil!!!!no blondie and his little whore were more important!

      Joseph weaver

      December 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

  2. [...] Space Exploration Just for fun, Hitler’s ten dumbest mistakes [...]

    • No way,,,russia,,,,usa ,,and britain….germnay was doomed from december 7th 1941,,,and the americans fought island by islandlet alone the war ineurope…this ws the 1940’s when america started with no war machine,,,god bless america…..she saved the world and continues to do so!!!

      Joseph weaver

      December 3, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    • Hitlers greatest mistake that cost him the war?
      His Jewish policy!
      England’s Jews went to work at Bletchly Park and other key locations
      America’s Jews went to work on the Atomic bomb
      Germany’s Jews? they went to death camps to please the delusions of madmen

      Robert1313

      February 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

  3. An excellent and comprehensive list, though I suppose it could go on ad infinitum. I might add his spending on the German navy, all that money put into battleships would have been better spent on more and deadlier U-Boats, which should have been given the express purpose of sinking the Royal Navy.

    Sidney Carton

    April 24, 2009 at 10:57 am

  4. I dont think the U.S. would be speaking German because if Hitler was smart he would have never declared war on the U.S. Insted I think that we would be involved in a massive arms race with Germany today, while the majority of europe is speaking German.

    Skimmer88

    May 18, 2009 at 8:30 pm

  5. Another mistake, thanks in large part to Hitler’s massive ego, was the Nazis weren’t satisfied in producing simple, effective weapons which can be mass produced and easily replaced. Everything they built had to be grandiose. Right up until the end, they were still coming out with hard to produce, hard to maintain monstrosities (such as the Tiger tank) which wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference on the outcome of the war!

    Frank

    June 23, 2009 at 9:23 pm

  6. Excellent! Hitler’s tactical errors in the Russian campaign are often overstated. The fundamental error concerning Russia was (1) deciding to attack Russia at all prior to eliminating England as an enemy and (2) underestimating Russia’s staying power. Whether Sea Lion (the invasion of England) would have succeeded is an interesting question, but the Mediterranean could have been conquered by Germany by properly supplying Rommel.

    Neil

    September 15, 2009 at 11:38 am

  7. HITLER IS A BAD BAD MAN AND I DO NOT APPROVE OF HIM!!!!!!!!!!! he is the worst thing that has ever happend to the world!!!! he is BAD!!!!!!!!!

    Jim

    December 11, 2009 at 7:26 am

    • jewish marwarish type of comment

      KD

      April 27, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    • i agree except he wasn’t the worst. the most publicized maybe but not the worst.

      sky white

      May 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      • That’s true, Sky White. Certainly not the worst.

        Paul

        October 9, 2013 at 1:09 am

  8. nice list, the purges after the failed assassination did alot to cost germany the war

    dave

    December 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm

  9. Simply pathetic. I’m no neonazi, but your gross misrepresentation of the war and senselessly ignoring so many facts is appalling. It was NOT that simple. Not a single one of your items is as you described. It was NOT all Hitler’s fault, though you learned (and I can see that quite well) that in high school. Oh, Hitler was a demented crazy dictator that only slowed his genius generals down. That’s sad. To think that, 65 years after, you small people still have this… Infantile hatred and willing blindness. Go read some history books, will ya? And not just the mainstream ones.

    Adrian

    January 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    • Hey Dillweed, everything he listed is quite simply ACCURATE. Put your gameboy down and read some history…

      Robert Simon

      May 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    • Wow – a little harsh. It is even says just for fun. I see a number of mistakes left out but…

      Chill out a little.

      Most history is misrepresented by whatever history book you are reading.

      Kirk

      April 5, 2013 at 7:08 am

      • Yes, my history posts are light-hearted, and intended to inspire thought and curiosity about history; they are not intended as history references. Most people understand that, but some miss it apparently. Takes all kinds to make a world. :) —Doug

        unitedcats

        April 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      • Hitlers a bastard if i was born then i would shoot him then if people started caving in on me then i would die happy knowing that i had saved innocent lives that would be killed in the near future

        3xotic_R3acTionZz

        August 27, 2013 at 3:08 am

  10. Great points! Here is another site too that has some interesting perspective on the subject: http://www.2worldwar2.com/mistakes.htm

    Michael Spire

    April 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm

  11. I think this is a pretty good article actually. All the things I would have included myself are up there plus a few new ideas to think about, namely the cancellation weapon programme.

    And to the person above, I don’t think he was blaming it all on Hitler, just acknowledging the factors that certain mistakes Hitler made contributed greatly to his defeat.

    But yeah, thanks, gave me a lot to think about :)

    Hannah

    May 17, 2010 at 7:59 am

  12. I agree with Adrian; this is a terrible misrepresentation of facts. It’s more of a personal editorial than an analysis of a failed war effort. Please do some more research before posting something like this.

    Jacob

    May 18, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  13. Maybe you should re-read the title of the post? If you have any factual corrections I’m always happy to make them. There are limits to what I can put in an 800-1000 word post, it’s not meant as any sort of analysis. Sheesh.

    unitedcats

    May 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm

  14. More critical mistakes:

    1) His refusal to put resources into expanding the U-Boat fleet. If Donitz had gotten the number of U-Boats he wanted, Germany might have been able to strangle Britain early in the war, forcing them to sue for terms.

    2) His predilection for big and heavy armaments – the Panther and Tiger tanks were a huge waste of investment in weapons that were too heavy, too slow, and too few to be effective on the steppes of Russia, where speed and maneuverability were key. Instead, the Russians built the tank (the T-34) the Germans should have, and deployed it en masse. His investment in large capitol ships (battleships and cruisers) was almost a complete waste of investment.

    3) His failure to realize the importance of air superiority. For him, the primary function of the Luftwaffe was to support ground operations. His failure to appreciate the strategic importance of air power, both in attack and defense, was perhaps the primary reason he lost the war.

    SCallihan

    August 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    • Another one was hitlers famous halt order in France. One documentary claims he was upset with the likes of Guderian defying orders to halt & pressing on with the pursuit of the BEF. It was clear that Guderian was well on his way to completing the destruction & capture of the entire BEF, and claiming much of the credit for the success of the battle. Credit was something that Hitler didn’t like to share, so he ordered the halt & allowed the BEF to escape, thinking it wouldn’t matter.
      He did the same thing in Russia, with generals all eager to be the conquerers of Moscow. He gave them other priorities instead,to reinforce the message that HE was the one running the show, so that after victory was won, HE would get all the credit for the success. Fortunately that one also backfired.
      Hitlers 1st biggest blunder started before the war, when he went back on his word, to the world, and did exactly what he had so loudly claimed he would not do…by taking over the rest of Czechoslovakia. At the time he said, “don’t worry, in 2 weeks, no one will talk about it anymore”. He failed to notice the damage this act was having on British & French public opinion. Just over a year later, when trying to force Britain to the surrender table, he just couldn’t figure out why they were refusing. He figured, wrongly, that Britain was placing its hopes in Russia, which led him to his next blunder…Barbarossa…

      Vinni

      May 23, 2014 at 8:42 am

  15. I’m just enjoying reading all of the comments as well as the material itself. I have always been amazed with the amount of money the Germans spent on the weapons. Also, amazed that they lasted as long as they did with all of the blunders. I do think they would have had to fight the Russians either way, cutting a deal with the USA after defeating the the Brits would have been a good idea. The U boat program should have been more funded early on. other facts with Japan no has mentioned here: due to the German situation after WW1 the Germans became bed fellows with the the Japs and exported lots of technology which to this day we can see. Particularly in the auto industry. I see these advances all around, the Germans really developed some awesome stuff. Sadly thanks to Hitler’s grandiose plans ! God does work in strange ways at times !!!!

    Jeff W

    September 22, 2010 at 4:55 pm

  16. i really enjoyed your site these ideas you touched upon as blunders by hitler altough simplisticly put have great merit. many of them whole books have been written on,but yougave other insightfull information like the lurking german bombers around british airfields,and the cancellation of the weapons programs,that were fresh and cant be found in the rise and fall of the third reich written by william shirer one of the most definitive works on hitler germany, and that time.

    jlk

    January 25, 2011 at 8:58 pm

  17. Hitler just needed a good horse fuckin…….

    PlumberCrack

    February 5, 2011 at 10:04 am

  18. [...] thought of it, but it is a great suggestion. The Allies certainly made some blunders, though not as many as Hitler and they were more insulated from the consequences because they had such numerical advantages over [...]

    • Attacking Russia is stupid.Russia never loses xD

      HunterTheAss

      October 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm

  19. Great list! My dad is a SERIOUS WWII buff and I found this site while on the phone with him. We’re going to a WWII air show tomorrow here in the Twin Cities and we started talking about the war and how at the time, it was certainly not a foregone conclusion that the Allies would eventually win it. We started tossing out ideas of what we thought were the key events and primary factors that led to the defeat of Germany. I brought up the topic of Hitler’s blunders and how if it weren’t for some major jaw-dropping, inexplicable mistakes on the part of Hitler… things may not have ended the way they did or as ‘quickly’ as they did. So of course the question of what his biggest mistake was came up. My dad (who knows volumes more about WWII than I do) said the same thing you had listed as your #1 answer- The Battle of Britain… and his explanation matched yours almost verbatim. I happened to think it might have been his declaration of war on the US. My dad didn’t think this was his costliest mistake, but we both find it to be perhaps his most inexplicable blunder. You mentioned that the reason Hitler did it was that it would be good for morale. We were having a hard time understanding exactly how that was supposed to be a morale boost. I mean, you obviously think it was a horrible call as well… but just curious if you have any idea as to Hitler’s logic as far as how this was supposed to boost morale- and how that morale boost could possibly outweigh the fact that he just added the US, unequivocally and immediately, to the list of Allied forces they would now be facing. It’s a real head-shaker… lol.

    Thanks
    Mike D.

    Mike Dawson

    July 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    • Hitler made a lot of bad military decisions based on his perception of German popular opinion. And he most certainly was inclined to underestimate the capabilities, resources, and willpower of people he chose to make enemies of. I don’t think is decision is well documented, he didn’t keep diaries. A desire to stand with Japan and encourage them to attack Russia was likely pat of it. The US was already industrially at war with Germany, providing massive support to Britain, so taking on the then USA’s tiny military was not an issue. My guess is that is was important for him to appear to be “in control” and having the initiative, and that he thought that that inspiring example would more than compensate for the long term effects of America’s industrial might. —Doug

      unitedcats

      January 1, 2012 at 12:24 am

    • your dumb

      ctb3

      January 19, 2012 at 9:16 am

    • hows your daY?

      ctb3

      January 19, 2012 at 9:16 am

  20. I have to do a paper on this and you just saved my life.

    DEMAN

    December 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

  21. I would add the extermination of the Jews. This required enormous resources – especially in the occupied countries – thousands of troops, engineers, building materials, railways, for a purpose that added nothing to the war effort. Logic would dictate that maybe it was more urgent to, say, defeat the Russians, than to spend resources rounding up Jews in France or in Greece. IMHO.

    Mark

    December 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    • Good point, might even be worth a blog post someday. People who could have and would have contributed to the war effort, as loyal, educated, and productive as any other German, if not more so, were instead imprisoned and killed at government expense. The modest gains from confiscating their property and using their slave labour couldn’t begin to compensate for the loss of millions of productive citizens. —Doug

      unitedcats

      January 1, 2012 at 12:12 am

      • Of course this was a war crime of monstrous proportion.
        It is a horrible irony that the Nazi destruction of Jewry was — and still is — an enormous loss of remarkable (and loyal) talent to Germany and the rest of humanity. All genocide is tragic beyond comprehension.

        Peter Nau

        July 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm

  22. The Russians stopped the Germans not the U.S. Go the a Library if you’re going to start sharing “facts”

    Jeff

    February 6, 2012 at 5:21 am

    • how good is your english dude? and how good is your “reading and comprehension” ? …from the very first paragraph: “Not to even mention that it was Russian armies rolling inexorably westward that destroyed Hitler’s armies.”

      Robert_theRover

      May 21, 2012 at 8:17 am

    • Russians begged americans to sta
      rt a second front!,,,also read about how the russians treated their so called stark troops (made them walk acroos geman mine fields)…because their iq was low….yea the russians were just as bad as the germans….truman should have let patton have his way….

      Joseph weaver

      December 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

  23. hitler was a dumb ass and forgot how the us stock market crashed and then went the whole world into a depression. that meant that he was facing the might of the greatest country of all the world not to mention the huge reserves of the russians and their willingness to fight

    robster

    July 25, 2012 at 9:33 am

  24. Hi Guys and Girls, talking on the subject of Hitlers successes and failures. Let’s go to the beginning. Hitler wanted to have his ‘Super Aryan Race’, but to do it he needed to conquer and subdue his opponents. Be honest, if you wanted to win a war would you not use all the ‘manpower’ at your disposal. Well, he did not!! He could have used nearly 6,000,000 Jews to help him!! What a pratt!! Wouldn’t you, in his Nazi shoes, have got all your opponents defeated and out of the way, by using this vast resource, before systematically murdering them??

    John Healey

    August 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

  25. Just goes to show, the biggest weapon the allies had against Hitler was … Hitler.

    JC Hopkins

    October 19, 2012 at 5:43 am

  26. Expelling Jewish scientists such as Einstein was a costly error. Germany would have developed the atomic bomb years ahead of the United States had he not done so. Not having his tanks and air force at Normady on D-day was just dumb. Not sharing technology with his Japanese allies would have extended
    the war in the Pacific with the United States. But his biggest mistake was playing miltary general instead of taking the advise and listening to the real generals was Germany’s downfall.

    ANDREW ROJAS

    November 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

  27. [...] was a military genius on par with Alexander or Napoleon. He wasn’t, and he proceeded to make one disastrous military decision after another. If Hitler had gone with his generals’ plans in France, his victory wouldn’t have been [...]

    • The above blunders are obvious. I think that Hitler should have mass produced and modified the Panther tank to accommodate the 88 cannon and not produced the two versions of the Tiger tank. They were too slow, too heavy, took too much gas and were prone to breaking down due to under sized engines and transmissions. He could have created millions more bozookas and panzer fausts with the extra steel. With millions more of bozookas, his army could have dealt death blows to allied armor. He should have mass produced underground industry before the war broke out. Another thing; Hitler should not have declared war on America. He had the perfect excuse to not do it. Japan previously backed out of the deal to attack the USSR after Germany invaded. With America at war with Japan, America would have shyed away from war in Europe.

      Donald frost

      December 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm

  28. nice topic people. I am russian and i do research about this now. It is very interesting to read all ur guys opinions. A lot of Russian think that we does main job, it is very important holiday (day of victory) for us even now a days. But steal, it is very interesting think about how could history change if he didn’t lost

    Stalin

    March 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm

  29. I am an American woman.
    It seems that the facts about WWII (or any other war), are more complicated than any of us imagine. My father, who was born in 1906, was an officer in the Coast Guard during the war. He told me that he believed Adolf Hitler was clever, but not intelligent (something I still don’t get). He said that his biggest mistake was in attacking Russia in winter, just as Napoleon had done. This lost Germany the war.
    Hitler failed to learn from history.

    Jeannine Rouse

    March 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm

  30. Re. ‘Just for fun, Hitler’s ten dumbest mistakes’

    You omit the biggest blunder of them all. This was Hitler’s hopeless imprisonment in his own racist Nazi ideology, a mindset which regarded all ‘non-Aryans’ as sub-humans to be ruthlessly exploited and repressed. Had the newly liberated (i.e. by Germany from Soviet communist rule) east Europeans been shown a modicum of respect and granted the slightest vestige of local autonomy he would have enjoyed their enthusiastic assistance and participation in the prosecution of Operation Barbarossa (i.e. the war against Russia) and arguably been able to at least enforce a military stalemate with Stalin on the eastern front. The same mindset demanded that the Poles (who better than anybody knew how to fight the Russians) be crushed underfoot and excluded from all cooperation in the defense of their homeland (and incidentally Germany too) against the invading Soviet armies – instead Hitler ordered his soldiers to reduce Warsaw to ashes. Most dramatically of all, it is reflected in the utterly insane anti-Semitism and genocidal policies culminating in the ‘Final Solution’ – a program which involved a huge diversion of resources to implement and which denied Germany the enormous potential contribution of skilled Jewish manpower to the German war-effort.

    Hitler’s ‘No-retreat’ order. Your point about this policy is very valid from the tactical military perspective but should be viewed additionally in the wider political context as well. Up till D-Day (June 1944), an offer to withdraw all German forces from France and restore that country’s national sovereignty in return for future French neutrality would almost certainly have been accepted. The impact of this on Allied military strategy would of course have been momentous – no military short-cuts to Germany through France nor a continuation of the bombing raids against Germany over French territory any longer permissible or feasible. At the same time, some 50 divisions would have been released from France to beef up the sorely depleted German defenses in eastern Europe. Fortunately for the Allies, Hitler was mentally incapable of contemplating such a policy.

    Finally, your reference to the greater mobility of German forces is valid only for the earlier stages of the war. From late 1943 onwards, Allied convoys using the north Atlantic route delivered increasing shipments of American trucks and other vital parts to the Russians, conferring a decisive military advantage over the Germans who were still heavily reliant on pack-horses to move military supplies.

    Jeremy

    June 18, 2013 at 4:18 am

  31. #10 last line. are you serious ?

    T-72

    August 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    • Yes. The war was lost at this point. The chances that Operation “Watch on the Rhine” would lead to some sort of negotiated settlement with the western allies was essentially zero. Slowing down the Russians might have led to the Allies taking Berlin and no East Germany. Granted the Germans really had no good options at this point.

      unitedcats

      August 11, 2013 at 12:28 am

  32. […] Just for fun, Hitler’s ten dumbest mistakes | Doug's Darkworld As I said, just for fun. And to provide debate ammo if one of my gentle readers is presented with the “If the USA hadn’t stopped Hitler, we’d all be speaking German now” tirades. Sigh. Even without the USA, Hitler’s empire would have come crashing down sooner or later. A combination of strategic over-extension, resistence movements, and Hitler’s folly would have destroyed the Third Reich one way or the other. Not to even mention that it was Russian armies rolling inexorably westward that destroyed Hitler’s armies. In any event though, it is astonishing some of the blunders Hitler made. No wonder the Allied High command sometimes joked that Hitler was their greatest ally: 1. Battle of Britain. When Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to “take out” the Brits, the Luftwaffe sensibly enough began their campaign by trying to destroy the RAF. By the RAF’s admission, they nearly succeeded, in fact they were about two weeks away from pretty much shutting down the RAF and controlling the skies of Britain. Then Hitler got involved and ordered the Luftwaffe to attack the British cities instead, especially London. Which did nothing but piss the British off and freed to RAF to concentrate on regaining control of the skies over Britain. London burned, but German casualties mounted to the point where they had to call off the campaign, and that was that. 2. Cancellation of weapons programs. After the Fall of France in 1940 Hitler was so confident of victory that he cancelled most weapons research programs, insisting that the war could be won with the weapons they had. Two years later when the Germans were being outclassed on all fronts by next-gen Allied weapons, the programs were all frantically restarted. Two years had been lost though, and worse, key engineers and such had died in Russia. Germany did manage to produce some impressive weapons, but never in any quantity and most of them never had the bugs worked out and thus weren’t terribly reliable in practise. 3. Invasion of Russia. There were multiple mistakes made here, just attacking Russia for one was incredibly optimistic. Compounded by a six week delay in the attack so Hitler could pointlessly bail out Mussolini in the Balkans. And then the Germans made no preparations for a long war because Hitler assumed Russia could be completely defeated the first summer. He ordered Leningrad to be surrounded, not captured! And Hitler fatally delayed the push for Moscow by diverting his panzers to the stalled southern front. Unlike in Napoleon’s time, Moscow was the absolute centre of the Russian railroad network, and if the Germans had captured the city and the rail connections south of the city, it would have crippled the Russian war effort. 4. The “No retreat” order. This is Hitler’s biggest mistake in Russia and one of the biggest military blunders of all time. When the war in Russia started going badly during the first winter, Hitler ordered his troops to never retreat under any circumstances. This is insane in general because there’s no point standing your ground if you are outnumbered and getting the crap beat out of you. Doubly insane because the only real advantage the Germans had over the Russians was that the German troops were far more mobile. So it made far more sense to retreat when attacked and then counterattack after he Russians had advanced beyond their supply lines. The one German general with the stones to defy Hitler, Manstein, did this a number of times with devastating effect. 5. Me-262 as a bomber. The Me-262 was a beautiful plane, in some ways a decade or more before its time. It was the world’s first jet interceptor and could fly rings (literally) around the best Allied planes of the time. The Me-262 was conceived, designed, and developed as a jet interceptor, a plane specifically designed to hunt down and destroy Allied planes. Hitler ordered it into full production … as a bomber. His minions nodded, and quietly continued to develop it as an interceptor. Someone tipped Hitler off though, and he made sure it was developed as a bomber. In trial runs few pilots were even able to get their bombs within a mile of the targets. The Me-262 was a complete (and predictable) failure as a bomber. By the time a few Me-262 interceptors saw action they were too few too late to change anything. 6. No women labourers. Did the Nazis use slave labour in their factories because they were mean people? Well, yes, but they were also motivated by a severe shortage of factory labour … because Hitler had decreed that German women were not to do factory work. Millions of American and British women went to work on assembly lines freeing up millions of men for military duty. The Germans suffered terrible manpower shortages during the war, while millions of German women sat at home. 7. War on USA. Hitler declared war on the USA right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Why? He thought it would be good for morale. (Most of his dumb—– ideas were based on thinking like that.) Maybe the USA would have declared war on him anyhow, but it was crazy to simply give Roosevelt what he wanted. 8. More Russian errors. In i942 Hitler ordered his armies to seize the oil fields in the Caucasus and the city of Stalingrad, spreading his armies far too thin. As a result his forces failed to capture the oil fields, and suffered crippling losses at Stalingrad. 9. The Battle of Kursk. At Kursk in 1943 Hitler ordered a massive attack even though the Russians clearly knew he would attack Kursk. The German armies last great offencive flung themselves against massed Russian defenders dug in with huge numbers of anti-tank weapons and legions of modern Russian tanks. It was the biggest tank battle in history, and a crushing defeat for Germany. The battle of Stalingrad guaranteed that Germany was not going to win its war with Russia, Kursk guaranteed that the Russians would win. 10. Battle of the Bulge. Hitler’s last gasp attempt to win the war. He attempted to repeat his success of 1940 by attacking the Allies the exact same way. Even though his forces were vastly smaller, didn’t have the fuel to do the job, and were facing a vastly superior enemy than the French army of 1940. The attack had zero chance of success, it would have been far more sensible to attack the Russians and try to slow down their advance. And these are just the big blunders, there were plenty of minor blunders as well. My favourite is one last Luftwaffe story, because it shows just how shallow and demented Hitler’s thought processes were. At one point in the middle of the war the British bomber force was causing big problems for Germany, about a thousand British bombers would fly over Germany and carpet bomb some target almost every night. The Brits bombed at night because they couldn’t replace their losses, so they sacrificed accuracy for safety. The Luftwaffe had a great idea, lone German long range fighters would lurk around British airbases and attack British bombers as they came in to land in the morning light. (The radars of the time couldn’t really track single planes flying at low altitude.) It was very effective and downed a number of irreplaceable British bombers and their crews. If it had continued at the very least the Allies would have been forced to divert significant air power to defend against a small number of Germans, and it might have even severely crippled the British bombing campaign. So what did Hitler do when he heard about this clever program to defend against the British bomber fleet? Iron crosses all around? Nope, Hitler basically said “Nein, nein nein, the Luftwaffe must shoot down the British bombers over Germany, not England, so that the German people can see the wreckage of the British bombers and be encouraged!” Hitler cancelled the program, and the British high command (not to mention the British bomber crews) breathed a big sigh of relief when German planes stopped appearing out of nowhere to shoot them down as they landed. Frankly it’s a wonder Hitler’s Third Reich lasted as long as it did. (The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit. Apparently the current German government is claiming copyright to works produced by the Nazis, so if they want the credit for this pic, so be it. Go figure. It’s Hitler and his beloved dog, Blondi. I think it’s a compelling image for a number of reasons, to me it captures Hitler’s charm, evil, and shallowness. Plus it captures a real moment in time, the magic of photography never ceases to amaze me. ) Reply With Quote […]

    • One of the greatest strategist in world history was Bismarck, a German, whose brilliant policies created a German state out of squabbling 1000 year old principalities, when France, England had long been national powers. Had Hitler possessed the vision of the Iron Chancellor history perhaps would be profoundly different. Bismarck simply would not have gone to war. A defeated and weak dispirited Germany after the Great War and yet the Allies were giving Hitler EVERYTHING he and Germany wanted. The Soviets, the COMMUNISTS, mortal enemies of fascism, were supplying him with so much oil and aid. Then the IDIOT goes to WAR on Poland! That was his BIGGEST blunder. The biggest threat to the world then was communism, Stalin the most evil tyrant. What Hitler SHOULD have done is ALLY himself with the other western powers, England, France, and the U.S. in a moral POLITICAL crusade against the USSR. Much as what Reagan did. Also, a huge blunder, shortcoming was not really creating a strong WORKING alliance with Japan. Hitler didn’t even know they were going to attack Pearl Harbor. If they had had a true strategic alliance and formulated master war plans such as the allies did in their conferences, BOTH would have realized their folly by attacking huge land-mass countries with tremendous resources. Instead of attacking the USSR, Hitler should have sent his troops through the Middle East to India. Instead of the futile war in China, and then attacking the U.S. Japan should have driven EASTWARD to India. Germany and Japan LINK up in India, boot out the British and declare India a free sovereign nation. England’s colonial resources are cut off. But MAGNANIMOUSLY, Hitler signs peace treaties with both France and England with no occupation or demands. No war with the British Empire, no war with the U.S. Russia is SURROUNDED. What is Stalin going to do? He attacks Germany, the WHOLE WORLD, England, France, Japan, the U.S. is against him. We fight what should have the REAL war then and boot out the communists and indoctrinate Russia into the liberalism they could have had, had Napoleon been successful. OR, Stalinist Russia withers on the vine, surrounded by a whole world against communism. No Cold war! No Russian aid to Mao. No Communist China. Incredible pipe-dream but impossible because of the idiot Austrian paper-hanger. Hitler was a psychotic racists and militarist, not a grand strategist like Bismarck. Strange the ironies of that war and time. Japan and England, both island empires, one almost brought down by air power and submarine warfare, the other SUCCESSFULLY conquered by such. Germany could not sustain a 2-front war yet the United States carried out a 2-front war across VAST distances AS WELL AS supply its allies. A “mongrelized” country accepting people and cultures from around the world defeats the master race. And the SUPERIOR NORDIC MASTER RACE persecuting a people whose contributions to Western and world culture, science, economics and history FAR overshadow its numbers. If any people could be labeled the master race it would thus be the Jews. Hitler’s 1000 year Reich lasted a little more than a decade. Christianity has held sway for over 2 millennium, a religion with its origin in the preaching of a Jewish carpenter. Likewise with Islam, whose founder acknowledges his Christian and Jewish roots. What lasting contribution do we have from the evil master race? Volkswagens? If Hitler was dogmatically rigid, how could he consider the Southern European Italians and ANY Asian peoples as allies? Hitler’s psychotic racism was his own—and Germany’s— undoing and worst enemy. A relatively sane smart real politic statesman and leader like his 19th century predecessor would never have declared war or persecuted anyone.

      Randy Gomberg

      December 29, 2013 at 12:48 am

      • Hindsight is the Devil’s game. Hitler was a genius. A genius makes mistakes. Germany’s biggest mistake was not putting the German economy on ‘all out’ war footing.

        You are forgetting,through the lens of hindsight that many decisions were made over periods of weeks,especially the military ones. It’s easy to look back and say, ‘this or that’ should have happened.

        IF you are right; the American’s should have agreed with Himmler’s proposal to join forces with the Nazi’s and destroy Soviet Russia. Always reasons for why this didn’t happen,that we are NOT privy to.

        Bradley G. Barnett

        January 6, 2014 at 3:32 am

      • Wow!. Thank you for replying to my comments. I didn’t expect it . You know I’ve always cringed when I hear people say Hitler was a GENIUS. One of historys most tyrannical evil monsters a “genius”? Einstein was a genius. Hitler was a megalomaniacal psychotic. He was lucky more than anything else, even he admitted to that. Lucky the French stood by when he re-occupied the Rhineland. They could have crushed his army then. Lucky the French and BEF were incompetent. Lucky he had TREMENDOUS skilled leaders in the Wehrmacht. Lucky Stalin paid no heed to the intel about the forthcoming invasion.His luck ran out when he failed to take Moscow and later when the Japanese drew America into the war.

        War rarely, if ever, solves the problems of man. How could the US be ideologically allied with a criminal totalitarian Nazi regime to fight the USSR? Bad enough we were partnered with Uncle Joe.(FDR was naive, wasn’t he). Maybe with a democratic liberal Germany we could have invaded Russia. Strange, millions of Axis died but could not bring down Communist Russia. Yet it was the peaceful broad dissemination of western ideas thru a more open media (perestroika) that brought down the USSR. Yes, we can credit Reagan and the economic factors of the ’80’s and ’90’s.Moreso, it was the liberal and democratic ideas disseminated into Russia that finally did.

        Randy

        gbrandolph

        January 6, 2014 at 10:27 am

  33. I have been commenting on similar articles tonight, and I must say that this is the first I’ve encountered that actually included the true game-changing mistakes made on Hitler’s part. For instance, earlier I read an article that stated one of Hitler’s biggest blunders was the Battle of Britain altogether, meaning the bombing attack. The bombing attack probably would have succeeded, had it not been for Hitler’s meddling, as you stated. Operation Sealion probably never had much of a chance, but at least the destruction of the RAF would have freed up resources, and it would have given Germany the upper hand. Churchill never would have bargained with Germany I don’t think, but maybe if the RAF was completely out of the equation, and Germany had started surrounding Britain’s ports with U-boats, Britain could have sued for peace due to the fact that an invasion of Britain, when it had no navy or air force, would have been much more likely to succeed.

    But obviously even the loss of the Battle of Britain in the west was not detrimental to the overall war. The war was lost in the east, especially considering the manpower and resources that were squandered there. You hit the nail on the head regarding Moscow’s rail networks as well. The entire fiasco at Stalingrad was simply pointless. Hitler underestimated Russia as well.

    Had Hitler made a decision to listen to his commanders, who knew more about warfare than he did, he probably would have succeeded where he ended up failing. Scary thought. But I suppose it worked out well for the rest of the world. Germany really was in a position to conquer even more than the whole of Europe. The invasion of Russia was not necessarily a mistake either, imo. But I think things would have been better for Germany had they launched an invasion of the Middle East before attacking Russia. It would have given Russia more time to prepare, but it would have allowed Germany to seize the Caucasus from the south, as well as from the west, where Germany initially invaded. Various things could have been done differently, and I really enjoyed your article. Like I said, it is the only one I’ve read that really nailed the true problems. And you are absolutely right that, with Hitler’s personality and constant meddling, it is a wonder that the Nazi’s war lasted as long as it did.

    JiggyPotamus

    February 3, 2014 at 8:42 pm

  34. Your remarks about Hitler’s mistakes are more accurate than those made by 95% of the self-professed “amateur historians” who I’ve read. Hitler’s 3 greatest mistakes were: 1) Failing to recognize the strategic importance of conquering England in ’40-’41. Had he been focused on this goal–and taken the appropriate measures–destroying the BED at Dunkirk–eliminating the Raf’s airbases, etc

    jgb

    March 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm

  35. I think the massive amount of manpower and administrative resources dedicated to the Final Solution could really have been much better spent elsewhere.

    Todd

    March 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    • Can you believe as late as the spring of 1945 the machinery of the Final Solution was going FULL BLAST!? The Russians were at the gates of Berlin yet not one camp soldier was diverted to the Eastern Front. Imagine if Hitler was NOT an insane racist psychopath and he treated the enslaved Ukrainians, etc with decency and enlisted their support against Stalin. They would have licked the Russians. The more I study the more I come to the conclusion that Hitler WANTED to lose the war.

      Randy Gomberg

      March 24, 2014 at 11:10 pm

  36. His handling of the conquered people of Eastern Europe was also a huge mistake. Had he treated them as allies they would have helped him in the battle against Stalin. Instead he had them murdered or sent to concentration camps. This caused them to form an effective resistance army behind German lines. Likewise, his failure to evacuate a great portion of the Afrika Corps (and allied Italian soldiers) when it was quite apparent that the war was lost in that region.

    James A. Burgin

    May 8, 2014 at 7:19 am

  37. Regarding #1, Hitler’s initial order was NOT to bomb British cities:
    “The war against England is to be restricted to destructive attacks against industry and air force targets which have weak defensive forces”

    However, the RAF launched an attack on industrial targets in Berlin that caused civilian casualties, so Hitler was outraged and ordered to switch from military to civilian targets. That was definitely a blunder, but it wasn’t like he all of a sudden ordered such switch on a whim.

    John Barry

    May 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm

  38. I wonder what would happen if Germany declared war on Japan right after Pearl Harbor–

    BWD

    May 30, 2014 at 8:51 am


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